Why Alford Holds an Inclusive, Biennial Conference and Why You Should Care

Why Alford Holds an Inclusive, Biennial Conference and Why You Should Care

  |  All  |  Commentary  |  Industry

While strong work ethics and positive attitudes are both vital elements of success, they aren’t the only things a business needs to prosper. The most successful companies have a strong sense of community and an environment that promotes opportunities to develop new and innovative ideas.

The benefits of open candid discussions, nurturing effective relationships, and a sense of belonging to the greater whole are all reasons why Alford recently hosted its biennial conference and retreat. Offering opportunities for productive discussions, learning, and coming together as a group, our gathering at the Chickasaw Resort and Conference Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma, was enjoyable, memorable and effective. It was also a chance for staff to get away and take a different perspective on both day-to-day work and long-term goals.

An open forum helps Alford simplify for success

The 4-day conference started on a Sunday in early August, with everyone arriving and getting settled during the earlier part of the day. Attendees consisted of staff across the company and a handful of our trusted freelancers. Inviting non-staff attendees to a company conference is a unique concept within the industry; however, essential to the Alford culture and the effectiveness of the conference. This allows Alford to hear new and differing ideas and promote open discussions preventing an insular environment. An opening general session took place to help kick off the event, followed by some relaxed social time and dinner with about 75 people in attendance. The first major activity was a debrief with department leads of the 2015 retreat objectives and the progress of those goals. Successes, as well as challenges, were shared so as to set the tone for honest and open communication for the remainder of the conference. There was a resoundingly positive response from everyone assembled about the completion and results of these objectives.

Monday and Tuesday each featured general sessions, discussing topics like new technology, innovative advances in our communication platforms, a panel discussion with some of our freelancers, updates from departments on future projects, and updates of company operations. Also vital to the overall purpose of the event were the breakout sessions, in which each department assembled with their colleagues to discuss issues, opportunities and other matters related to their day-to-day work and long-term objectives.

The value of the breakout sessions was twofold. First of all, they provided time for each department to host a variety of discussions in an atmosphere and context that isn’t always available. They also gave other employees the chance to learn more about the operations of departments other than their own. Visits to breakout sessions held by other departments were valuable for learning about other departments’ innovations and pain points, helping everyone involved contextualize the many different moving pieces and allowing for interdepartmental collaboration.


The retreat was an opportunity to look at the big picture, prepare for the future, and, most important of all, encourage feedback and discussion from everyone involved. Alford’s company culture emphasizes the sharing of ideas and information across the organization, at all levels. Although the reviews and goal-setting sessions were presided over by company leaders, the overwhelming majority of the discussions involved all employees and freelancers from across the organization. While topics from across Alford were discussed, much of the time was focused on improving and looking toward the future in an effort to maintain the high level of expertise, innovation, and relevance for which we have long been recognized.

The results of both the breakout and general sessions were strongly positive, with a number of new goals set both on the departmental level and for the entire company. With Alford’s long-term commitment to hosting a company retreat going back to the early 1990s, senior leaders have a strong understanding of how to effectively run the event and make sure everyone involved has the best possible experience. The 2017 edition of the biennial annual retreat saw another fruitful conclusion, with all attendees feeling focused, empowered, and excited about the future.


Alford Media